By Sitka Athlete Dustin Roe
Blake decided to head home right away, which gave me the chance to spend some extra time with my wife Heather. We decided to go sheep hunting, even though she’d never been on a backpack hunt before, and the coming days scaling the Northern Rocky Mountains in fall weather promised to be an eye opener for her.
Heather, my three dogs – Sitka, Monti, and the new one Bivy (four months old) – and I loaded up in the truck and headed for the hills.
By the end of our first day of side hilling and bushwhacking, we were both exhausted – with no sheep sightings to speak of. Day two was easier. The sun was out and we walked along a creek, spotting three goats and a caribou cow, but still no sheep.
And then the fog rolled in. We awoke on day three to a thick soup of low-lying clouds, and I decided we ought to go back over the top and hike down into a new valley. That first day had been so rough that we had no desire to go back that way, but we did it anyway. A four-hour push straight up through fog, snow, wind, and rain, put us at the crest of the ridge.
The sun peeked through a bit during lunch, which gave us some motivation. But since we hadn’t been over to the other side before, we didn’t know what it would be like, or if we could even get down. With trepidation and a bit of self-coaxing, we started down the steep, rocky mountainside toward the grassy expanse below. It was the right choice.
At 5 p.m., we spotted a nice billy goat and took some video and pictures from 198 yards. We snuck away so as not to spook the goat, and continued down.
Then, on a small bench below, I spotted multiple rams. Heather’s rising excitement overcame her tiredness, and we watched the band of five Stone rams for twenty minutes, getting some great video and enjoying the moment on the mountain together. I really liked the biggest ram – a wide 8.5-year-old ram with a gorgeous dark cape. I’d never shot a Stone Sheep with a gun, and Heather had never seen one shot, so I decided to take him. Heather rolled the camera and the dogs laid watching as I fed him a Berger at 200 yards.
It’s a hunting experience I’ll always remember: Aug. 30, the day I finally turned Heather into a pack mule!